Papers of Adam Smith, 1723-1790, political economist
- This material is held at
- ReferenceGB 247 MS Gen 510/47, 514/35-38
- Dates of Creation1769-1776
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish
- Physical Description0.012 metres
- Direct Link
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Adam Smith was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland, in 1723 . He attended the University of Glasgow, Scotland, from the age of 14 where he was greatly influenced by Francis Hutcheson who held the Chair of Moral Philosophy there. In 1744 , Adam Smith won the Snell Exhibition to the University of Oxford, England, where he claimed he learned very little. He returned to Glasgow, being elected to the Chair of Logic at the University of Glasgow in 1751 and transferring to the Chair of Moral Philosophy the following year. His lectures covered the field of ethics, rhetoric, jurisprudence and political economy. He held this position for 13 years, claiming them to be by far the most useful and therefore as by far the happiest and most honourable period of my life. Glasgow at this time was a thriving mercantile centre with the Tobacco Lords at the apex of its society and in whose clubs and coffee-houses he was able to cultivate the acquaintances of businessmen and test his ideas against practical knowledge. He resigned from the Chair of Moral Philosophy in 1764 to become tutor to the Duke of Buccleuch on his Grand Tour, a much more lucrative post that gave him a position for life. The post allowed him to meet many of Europe's most notable people, including Voltaire. Smith returned to Kirkcaldy in 1767 to concentrate on his writing, and subsequently, in 1776 , he moved to London where he published his major work, The Wealth of Nations (1776 ). This work was immediately, and still remains to be, recognised as one of the seminal works of European philosophy, establishing political economy as a subject of study in its own right. Smith established his reputation as a moral philosopher with A Theory of Moral Sentiments in 1759 , and insisted that a framework of moral obligation underlined all his thinking. In 1778 he was appointed Commissioner of Customs for Scotland and he was elected Rector of the University of Glasgow, 1787-1789 . He died in Edinburgh, Scotland, in July 1790 .
The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received
Conditions Governing Access
MS Gen 510/47: Unknown, May 1964, ACCN 4131; MS Gen 514/35-38: presented by Thomas Skeat, Keeper of Manuscripts, British Museum, 1969, ACCN 4209
Other Finding Aids
Item level descriptions are available via the department's online manuscripts catalogue available at the University of Glasgow Library, Department of Special Collections http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/manuscripts/, searching by the call number MS Gen 510/47 and MS Gen 514/35-38.
Alternative Form Available
No known copies
Conditions Governing Use
Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Keeper of Special Collections.
Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.
This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 0247 procedures
MS Gen 510/47: Held by the British Association until May 1964; MS Gen 514/35-38: Unknown
Location of Originals
This material is original
No known publications using this material
Fonds level description compiled by Elaine MacGillivray, Archive Assistant, July-August 2003, assisted by Lucy Burrows, Archive Assistant volunteer.